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Cambridge City Council

Duty to refer homeless people to a local authority

From 1 October 2018, certain organisations will have a duty to refer anybody who they believe might be homeless to a local housing authority.

Your client must give their permission to be referred, and it’s their choice which local authority they are referred to.

This duty also applies to anybody suspected of being threatened with homelessness.

The law that created this duty is the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, Section 10.

The organisations responsible for making these referrals are:

  • Prisons and youth offender institutions
  • Secure training centres and colleges
  • Youth offending teams and probation services
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • Accident and emergency services provided in a hospital
  • Urgent treatment centres (such as walk-in centres)
  • In-patient hospitals
  • Social service authorities
  • Ministry of Defence (for members of the regular armed forces)

What to ask

If you work for an organisation listed above and believe a client could lose their home (or has already done so), you should ask:

  • Have you already been referred to a local housing authority for assistance? There is no need to refer someone who has already been referred by another agency.
  • Do you give consent for me to refer you to a local housing authority for help with resolving your housing situation? You’ll need to share basic information about the applicant with the housing authority.
  • Which local housing authority would you like me to refer you to?

Choose an appropriate local housing authority

The client can choose which local housing authority they wish to be referred to. However, it’s sensible to guide them towards the local council that is best equipped to resolve the situation. This will usually be in the area they live in or last had a settled home – unless there’s a threat of violence in that district.

Most councils will offer greater preference on their housing register for people who have a local connection with the district. This includes Cambridge City Council.

If the client is threatened with being made homeless within the next 56 days, we’ll try to help. If the client needs to find somewhere different to live, we’ll explore options including private rented housing and registering for social rent. However, it’s always best if this is handled by the council that is local to their current address – even if they do not wish to remain there.

If the client is already homeless, we’ll investigate whether they have a local connection with Cambridge. If they do not, we’ll refer them to the council area where they do have one, unless they don’t have one, or it would be unsafe.

Refer a client to Cambridge City Council

If you have consent to refer a client to us, and think it is appropriate to do so, use the following link:

If you believe your client has nowhere to sleep tonight, use the referral portal and also suggest that they speak to our housing advice service immediately. If you are discharging someone today, contact us to speak to the duty officer, before discharge. Do not rely solely on the referral portal.

What will happen next?

We’ll review all referrals and contact the client as soon as possible.

If we are satisfied that they are eligible for help, and either homeless or threatened with it within 56 days, we’ll create a homeless application for them. Otherwise, we’ll provide as much advice and assistance as we can.

Contact us

Service related queries

For questions about a service we provide, please use our contact us form